The Weird Sounds Of The Chilton Talentmaker

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In his latest video, synthesist Hainbach demonstrates the Chilton Talentmaker – a rare optical sample playback keyboard from 1973.

The Talentmaker plays back audio loops that were encoded optically onto film disks. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Talentmaker was a copy of the Mattel Optigan, which was releasd in 1971.

The technology of these instruments was extremely lofi, even in its day, and paired with terrible build quality, which made the instruments immediate failures. Rediscovered a generation later, though, the sound of these instruments can be appreciated for their lovely awfulness.

Here’s what Hainbach has to say about it:

“The Chilton Talentmaker is one of the first samplers, or rather loop players. Like the slightly more famous Mellotron, it allows playback of recorded instruments, but it can play them back as loops. This allows for all kind of endless playback of music, from “German Band” and “Polka Band” to “Waltz Guitar”, made famous through Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless mind” soundtrack.

The Chilton and its close relatives, the Optigan and Orchestron, were used by Kraftwerk, David Lynch, Tom Waits, The Clash and many more.”

Have you played the Talentmaker or the Optigan? Let us know what you think of them in the comments!

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